An out of practice reader discussing the books I get around to reading.
So. This was definitely a wild one. Wasn't entirely what I expected and there were many parts that had me going, "Excuse me, what?!" but at the same time it was definitely enjoyable. For a Jersey Devil fan (the monster, not the hockey team), this book was a lot of fun.
The Jersey Devil follows the Willet clan as they face off against the titular monster. Sam "Boompa" Willet had an encounter with the monster sixty years previous that left his whole family essentially cursed. Well now JD is back and he's bringing the whole damn family along for a feeding frenzy that makes Black Friday look like a tame day at the mall. It's up to Boompa and his family and a cryptozoologist to stop them and end the curse once and for all.
There were quite a few things I enjoyed about this book. The plot was decent and I found the story compelling and difficult to put down at times. In particular I found the horror really good. Nothing that I think will give me a nightmare, per say, but the scenes where people were being swarmed and eaten alive by the Devil and it's babies sent a chill down my spine. In particular I applaud Shae for not being afraid to go there. There is literally a dead baby at one point. Human baby. It's a gut punch and it made the situation even more terrifying. I'm glad he wasn't afraid to write things that were really terrifying, even if they were unseemly or taboo. Same goes for things like animals found splatted on the roads and such. It's a gorey book so if that's a major turn off for you, be aware. If you like that sort of thing, though, I think you'll really enjoy the terror Shae creates.
I also really appreciated his unconventional choices with some of his characters. I mean, who would expect the heroes of a horror novel to be a senior citizen and a completely dorky monster nerd? I laughed a bit at Norm's description, just because as someone who binge watches shows like Finding Bigfoot, he's the last person I'd expect to be a badass killing monsters.
In regards of what I didn't care for in this book, there were quite a few issues. Now, I almost never say this and, no offense, it's one of the critiques that always makes me roll my eyes when I see people use it, but here it goes: You can tell this book was written by a man. Damn you, Shae, for making me say it. But seriously, there were a lot of sex crazed couples and almost every woman that wasn't elderly was described as having Pamela Anderson-figures and being red-neck fantasy women. I just...It got annoying. One or two described that way, whatever. I'm a curvy gal myself, that's never really bugged me. But every woman? That's just lazy. I don't like lazy.
Another odd moment that felt like it was related to the above issue was quite the description of the Jersey Devil's junk. Not an image I really wanted in my head. Sometimes subtlety is okay.
More plot related, it did feel overstuffed. Not like he was cramming too much into it necessarily just that there was a lot going on that at times it made it more of an action story than a horror one. The detail of the toxic chemicals really didn't fit in. Shae's writing about a really interesting cryptid, one that could be considered demonic itself if that's the story you buy regarding Mother Leeds. Having mutant monster babies really made it feel more like a Michael Bay movie than a horror movie, which is a shame because I do think this guy can write horror. The ridiculous actiony parts made the novel less interesting for me, taking away from my enjoyment of the novel.
There were other plot elements that just seemed there for the sake of making it as action packed as possible. The fact that everyone in the Willet party is basically Rambo and the family has an arsenal was really off-putting to me, though I'll be fair and admit that there are people like that, several of whom are in my family. There were also scenes like the one with the Piney family that just kind of felt thrown in without any real impact to the story. The concert was also along those lines, since it wasn't mentioned until the last fourth of the book. Felt more like he just kept throwing out ideas until he was done, rather than keeping it a simple and clean story.
Overall I enjoyed the story and all of it's ridiculousness. It was a fun monster story and I'd love to see it adapted into a SyFy channel movie. It really is the perfect source material for them. And I love those movies.
Final Rating: 3 out of 5 stars. It's a fun, light read, just a little too stuffed and ridiculous at times. Also the Jersey Devil's nasty bits. Really didn't need to know that.
Final Thought: There was a Predator reference. 99.9% sure he intentionally made a Predator reference. It's ridiculous but I'm not mad either.